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5908Re: [fukuoka_farming] Natural farming on highlands

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  • Robert Monie
    Dec 1, 2006
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      Hi Miguel,

      Steve Vanek at Cornell has done important work in testing cover crops for the tropical highlands. Try emailing him at siv2@.... A quick Cornell report on the subject is available at http://mulch.mannlib.cornell.edu/ccth/covcropspecies.htm

      Frijol Chinapopo, Tarwi, Yellow and White Sweet Clovers, Garotilla (Bur-Medic), Sanfoin, Woolypod Vetch, and Phalaris Grass have all been tried with some degree of success.

      An aggressive, deep-rooted legume like sweet clover, together with a grain like Quinoa, and a grass like Phalaris, would probably be ideal for increasing humus. Also, if you can grow Yacon, Sunchoke, and Chicory (Cichorium intybus) in the mix, the inulin in the roots should, after several rotations, add to the fertility of the soil. Generally, grains, grasses, legumes, and the high inulin plants (chicory, sunchoke, artichoke, onion, asparagus, sunflower) work together to create a "ley" that produces fertile topsoil. If any one of these categories of plants is missing in the cover crop (probably more accurately the "root crop" mix), you will may fall short of acheiving maximum benefits.

      Bob Monie
      New Orleans, LA
      Zone 8

      torskel87 <torskel87@...> wrote:
      Hi Everyone
      This is Miguel from Ecuador, I am very interested in the subject of
      cover crops because I have been building terraces and once that I
      build them the remaining soil is really poor because the intensive
      labor and movement of the topsoil.
      Maybe is not so natural to build terraces, and I am building them like
      the Incas used to do,but I´ve seen that if you don´t build them in
      hilly lands, water absortion and soil fertility are poor, once that I
      build them the remaining soil is really poor so what I´ve trying is to
      rebuild it with cover crops, but I am wondering if the cover crops
      might be able to rebuild top soil once the it´s been completly mooved,
      somebody have an idea about this...I ve tried two ways of building
      terraces, one is by slow formation, just building a green wall of
      grass and leting the soil to be cariied year after year by the rain,
      and in this case the terraces are narrow, in this kind of terraces
      I´ve tried with natural farming, the other way is building a tall wall
      and moove all the soil with a hoe until I get a flat surface, in this
      case is when I wonder if a cover crop might be able to rebuild the
      soil????? In this case the terraces are usally broad.
      Maybe it would more natural to create green contours, but it would
      take a really long time until I get a flat surface on a slope.If
      somebody have expeience with farming on hilly lands I would thank any
      idea or advice.
      The advantages of terracing are that once builded, fertility remains
      forever and is not washed by the rain, and water absortion improves a
      lot.Also the microclamate created in the terrace prtotects the plants
      from the harsh conditions of the highlands(I am farming over 9200
      ft)specially wind and frost, I´ve tried natural farming on terraces
      and it works really good but only once the fertility is back, in some
      terraces I´´ve been trying to grow vegetables in a natural way and is
      amaizing to see daikon, lettuce, chard, turnip and clover replanting
      by themselvs with any work year after year, the only thing that I do
      in some terraces is spacing because daikon and lettuce seeds are
      scattered by birds and grow to thick, but once that the spacing is
      done the only thing that i have to do is harvesting....
      Soon i would like to post some photos about the terraces and the
      natural replanting of vegetables and andean tubers, but how do i post
      the photos in the group???

      --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, Robert Monie <bobm20001@...>
      > Hi Ty and Steve,
      > Everything Steve said about rocks that far down under the field is
      exactly right; unless you plan to specialize in growing some
      fantastically deep underground plant like the Japanese Imo mountain
      yam (cinnamon vine), you have plenty enough depth in your soil to grow
      most vegetables, legumes, and fruits. In addition to adding organic
      matter, you could experiment with various seasonaly rotating cover
      crops to see which work best for you in your microclimate.
      > Some cover crops to try are spelt, ryegrass, red clover, and hairy
      vetch in fall/winter, buckwheat in summer, and yellow blossom clover
      or birdsfoot trefoil in spring. Also try agricultural chicory for as
      long as you can keep it going. Yellow mustard, daikon, and oilseed
      radish are also good bets.
      > Each of these crops has its own special role in creating topsoil,
      both the humus and the glomular glycoprotein parts that science now
      tells us are essential for soil fertility. Rye and buckwheat are
      alleopathic and do most of your weeding for you; buckwheat also takes
      up and releases phosphorus. Red Clover and yellow sweet clover burrow
      through the hard soil (though don't expect them to do much with the
      boulders--at least in the next 100 years) and fix nitrogen from the
      air; birdsfoot trefoil also fixes nitrogen and is not nearly so
      finicky about getting started as the clovers are; hairy vetch is a
      companion plant to rye that flourishes in cool weather; buckwheat will
      grow in the steaming South; yellow mustard mines nutrients from low
      levels, sudan grass provides mass for decomposition; chicory adds
      inulin to the soil to build humus, and so forth. One of the old "ley"
      mixes might work well for you too (these usually combine chicory or
      burnet, a bunchgrass or two, a few
      > kinds of rye, a legume and some herbs for good measure). And don't
      forget Fukuoka's beloved short and middle-sized white clovers, White
      Dutch, New Zealand or New Zealand Dutch, or Ladino. In my experience
      the white clovers work best after a few years of soil build up and
      preparation. Then, you can really sow some vegetables among the
      clovers and they just might come up.
      > Some places where you can find these cover crops, expecially in
      high quantity volume: Cooper Seeds http://www.cooperseeds.com for
      buckwheat, ryegrass, hairy vetch and chicory and some of the clovers.
      Main Street Seeds ttp://www.mainstreetseedandsupply.com a good
      > Pinetree Seeds http://www.superseeds.com for spelt and bird'sfoot
      > Peaceful Valley Seeds http://www.groworganic.com for mixed
      (including yellow and white)mustard, oilseed radish (Johnny's Seeds
      http://www. also has these and Sudan grass as well), an herbal pasture
      mix (what I call a "ley mix"), and several clovers.
      > Bob Monie
      > Zone 8
      > USA
      > Steve Gage <sgage@...> wrote:
      > Hey there Ty,
      > Sounds exactly like typical New Hampshire conditions, only here we
      > the glacier instead of contractors :-)
      > I surely wouldn't worry about what's 15-20 feet down. 15-20 inches is
      > more like it around here.
      > When you say "not very thick" about the topsoil, what do you mean? And
      > it would be useful to let us know where you are. I know you're not in
      > New Hampshire, because of the palm trees :-)
      > In any case, there's probably quite a bit of soil around those big
      > rocks. And what are you intending to grow? Seems like if the grass and
      > palm trees are happy, you should have something to work with.
      > But here's my free all-purpose prescription: Add organic matter :-)
      > All best,
      > - Steve
      > tykei2 wrote:
      > > Hi All,
      > >
      > > I think I may have a problem. I have secured a plot of land for
      > > farming. But I recently discovered that its made up of several layers
      > > that may make it difficult for farming, Im not sure.
      > >
      > > Its land that was modified to make the house that is on the property
      > > stable as it is in a slide zone. In this respect it was a success, but
      > > the way they did it might cause problems for me, Im not sure.
      > >
      > > On the very bottom layer there is some clay/soil type of element, its
      > > about 15-20 feet down I estimate.
      > >
      > > On top of that the contractors dumped giant boulders, to stabalize the
      > > ground. Id say 10 feet high tops.
      > >
      > > Then on top of that they put top soil, not a very thick layer, but
      > > grass and palm trees are growing in it just fine.
      > >
      > > So my question is: will this cause me problems down the line as I try
      > > to grow things?
      > >
      > > It seems that the plants would try to grow deep roots, getting through
      > > the top soil only to hit giant rocks with not much soil at all at that
      > > layer.
      > >
      > > Does anyone have any experience growing in these conditions?
      > >
      > >
      > > thanks!
      > >
      > > -Ty
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > Yahoo! Groups Links
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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